The Holidays

Andrew and I have been living in the city for one month today.  We came home for the holiday season.  It has been amazing to see family and friends, but driving around in traffic, in the noise and overstimulation, it has confirmed what we’ve been feeling for a while.  We were meant for backroads and mountain top lakes and birds waking you up in the morning.

I can’t say this enough, family and friends have been so rejuvenating.  We’ve had something planned almost every night and we feel so loved and welcomed.  We’re staying with my parents which has also been fun.  We chat every day and they also are sensitive to the fact that being the introverts we are, we need to hole up in our room and recharge.

We’ve been taking long walks around White Rock Lake with Islay.  It’s been good to get outside and not feel as contained and stuck.  The lake is our little green haven in the concrete jungle and we spend almost every day there.  I’m reminded that birds live in cities too and the sound of the water lapping on the shore drowns out the roar of the road just a little bit.

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I mentally prepared myself for this.  For going from one extreme to the other.  Backroads to city streets.  Not a soul in sight to dinner plans every night.  And to be honest I’m kinda surprised how well I’m coping with it.  For the first time in a long time I feel pretty much balanced.  I feel that, even though I’m in the city and I’m busy, I’m feeling a reprieve from my mental health issues.  I’m doing yoga every day, going for long walks.  Although I am aware that I’m not eating too well because we’re going out so much, and I’m drinking quite a bit.  It’s those holidays!!  These are my four things that have to be in balance for my world to be in complete balance; yoga, walks, food and drink.  Oh and meds, those meds have to be in check!  So when they are under control and I’m still starting to struggle I check in with those things.  I usually find one of them is out of balance.

I try to stay very aware of my coping tools.  When I get stressed, my first reaction is to have a glass of wine.  I don’t ever get drunk, I just tend to run to that coping tool first.  My current triggers are worrying about money and city stress.  What’s my intention when I start to drink?  Is it because I just want to enjoy a glass or am I stressed and looking to that for relief?  Usually it’s the latter.  So I just need to check that and chill it out a bit.  Ideally I would replace it with a better coping tool like going for a walk, doing an extra long yoga session or playing dominoes with Andrew.

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The holidays can be hard because almost every night is a party.  Which usually involves drinking and savory food.  Andrew always says I need to give myself grace right now.  Which I’m not too good at.  I keep telling myself this is just a season, when we get back on the road we’ll get back into our healthy routine.  I’m also gaining a little bit of holiday weight which tends to rock my world.  But! I’m getting better at again, recognizing this is just a season, accepting my body and trying not be so hard on myself.

I haven’t written in a while and it’s mainly because I’m doing pretty well.  When there is drama and emotion and imbalance I have a lot to write about.  It’s another one of my go to coping tools.  When things are going well I don’t really need to process through anything so I don’t really write as much.  Andrew and I are taking Gertie (our trailer) and going camping next week in some little state park in South Texas.  I’m really looking forward to that.  Campfires and bird watching and reading outside and cooking at home and quiet, lot’s of quiet.  This is really how Andrew and I cope with stuff.  We run away.  We camp underneath the trees.  It’s a simple and quiet life.

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But I’m curious, how do you cope with the holidays?  They are an interesting season.  I was talking with a friend about them the other day and she mentioned that the holidays are full of joy with a hint of sadness.  I agree.  There’s something about this building up and building up, then you eat a whole bunch and the day is over.  You take down the tree and look forward to next year.  I’m finding that it’s a practice to be fully in the moment.  To not hang on until the next party or event, but to enjoy what you’re going through at that time.  To enjoy the people you’re having a conversation with at that moment.  I’ve also found that what helps this is to be thankful.  To list in your mind what you are thankful about at that moment.  To not jump ahead, but be thankful for right now.

So in this season of anticipation, of food and drink, of family and friends, of running around stuck in traffic, of spending money you possibly don’t have.. how do you cope?  What are you thankful for?  Are you truly experiencing the moment or waiting for the next thing?

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I find that when I’m imbalanced, the hardest part is identifying the thing that is making me unbalanced.  Once I identify the issues, and understand it, only then can I correct it.  Know your coping tools, know your triggers and put the work in fixing them.  Trust me, I know it’s much easier to check out.  It takes hard work to constantly process through your emotions.  But I have found that in coping by checking out or running to a vice, issues only get worse.  Because of my mental health issues, I have pretty always been navel gazing.  Identifying my emotions and forcing myself to work through them.  It’s a good practice to slow down a bit and confront your emotions.  That is perhaps why I love yoga so much.  It’s pretty much always slow down and process, slow down and process.

So this holiday season, take the time, maybe when you’re waiting in the car or in bed about to fall asleep.  Take stock of your day and how you’re feeling in the moment.  Find things to be thankful for and list them out loud.  By putting this hard work in, you will find yourself more thankful which leads to being more joyful.  Yea for the holidays and yea for working through stuff!!

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2 thoughts on “The Holidays

  1. Ellen. I really enjoy reading and, in a sense, experiencing your journey, through these blogs. I truly admire your courage for sharing all of the good, bad, and beautiful with all of us. Sometimes when I’m reading, I find myself really fascinated at the thought that we used to sit across from each other in 7th grade Science, and how similar our lives appeared to be, not you and I specifically, but all of us. And now, seeing where we all ended up, it’s just so crazy to me. But, then I realize… we haven’t “ended up” anywhere yet, all just part of this crazy life trip, and we still have so much more to look forward to. I hope all is well and just know that you’re an inspiration. Much love from an old buddy!

    PS – Stop making your hubby shave. Us bearded fellas have to stick together with one, unified message!

    1. Aw JJ!!! Thank you so so much. I’m so glad you wrote to me. And I agree! It is fun to see how far we’ve come. I love the facebooks! You have the most beautiful family and I love your Cowboys insight :)
      PS. I learned a long time ago that I cannot convince that man to do ANYthing. It’s going to be of his own accord or not at all!! He’s already growing it back!

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